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Daily Questions

“They do not know him who is the Way, your Word through whom you made those very things they are reckoning, together with themselves who do the reckoning, and the senses with which they perceive the things they reckon, and the mind with which they reckon; yet your wisdom is beyond reckoning.”
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, on prideful natural philosophers (V.3.v)
As a student, I find it easy to forget that my work (or my study, if you will) is an act of worship that is defined by its object and revealed by its telos (goal). So I am faced every day with questions:
  • Will I worship achievement–academic or otherwise?
  • Will I worship work–being better, more efficient, etc?
  • Will I worship acclaim–the approval of those I work with and for?
Or, will I worship the one True God–knowing that all I am and have and know and do comes as a gift from Him; prayerfully working for His glory and good; and trusting Him whatever the result?
Augustine’s prayer of safety in God’s goodness makes perfect sense then.
O Lord our God,
grant us to trust in your overshadowing wings:
protect us beneath them and bear us up.
You will carry us as little children,
and even to our grey-headed age you will carry us still.
When you are our strong security, that is strength indeed,
but when our security is in ourselves, that is but weakness.
Our good abides ever in your keeping,
but in diverting our steps from you we have grown perverse.
Let us turn back to you at last, Lord, that we be not overturned.
Unspoilt, our good abides with you,
for you are yourself our good.
We need not fear to find no home again
because we have fallen away from it;
while we are absent our home falls not to ruins,
for our home is your eternity.
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Streaming Video and McLuhan’s 4 Laws

After reading about the tragedy of a 12-year-old Georgia girl, who streamed her suicide, I have to wonder about streaming technology’s ubiquity. What criteria should we use to evaluate such technologies, which have great capacity for good and evil? Marshall McLuhan, the father of media ecology studies, suggested a Media tetrad, 4 “Laws of Media.” Continue reading Streaming Video and McLuhan’s 4 Laws

Goodreads and the Quantified Self

That trackability—that ability to have a quantified self of the mind—proved to be a draw for many of Goodreads’ 50 million users. Sharing a well-lit photo of a sandwich on Insta doesn’t say much except whether you prefer white or wheat; posting about our reading choices allows people to see the worlds we conjure up in our quiet moments. Is it oversharing? Maybe, but at least we’re reading, right?

On Reality

I made the following comment on a blog post at Circe Institute. I reread it today and thought it could stand on its own.

We tend to grant “realness” to tangible things and “metaphorical reality” to intangible things. In doing so, we wrest the status of ultimate reality from God, whom “no man has seen” according to Christ.

Stratford Caldecott’s Beauty in the Word seems apropos here. Caldecott writes that imagination is the proper tool for thinking about the future, as memory is the proper tool for thinking about the past. If that is so, we dare not fall prey to the tyrannical eye. Ultimate reality, after all, is beyond our eyes but not our imagination.

The Lord of the Rings illustrates this, it seems to me, in Sauron’s great and burning lidless Eye, roving over Mordor (and beyond) seeking the one thing that will assure his future victory and enthronement as lord of Middle Earth. Despite Sauron’s vast knowledge, despite his expansive vision, Gandalf says the Dark Lord has lost the power to imagine anyone refusing, much less destroying the Ring. And it is this “folly” that Gandalf suggests may be a “cloak, a veil before the eyes of the Enemy!”

Some (Peter Jackson included, I think) read our times into the Eye, perhaps seeing in it the 21st century’s constant surveillance. But might it not instead or also represent a slavery to what may be seen, that which St. Paul writes is temporal?

What Gandalf suggests of the heroes of Middle Earth is true of us: our enchantment with the “invisible” Ultimate Reality leaves our materialist foes befuddled and frustrated by our apparent folly. Why, they say, can we not admit the lack of tangible evidence and admit that God is a metaphor? In fact, the veil that once blinded our eyes is torn and the Glory it once hid is on full display, as we realize God is not merely a metaphor but the metaphor, literally carrying over the “unreal” into the “real” world.